chapter  10
Anti-corruption
ByCORA Y.T. HUI AND T. WING LO
Pages 20

Hong Kong is a story of immense changes. Just half a decade ago, Hong Kong society was filled with corruption and organised crime, and bribery was regarded as folklore. In the 1960s and 1970s, the colonial government began to better understand that in order to curb corruption in Hong Kong, a package of radical reform was required. Lo (2003) highlighted a blanket of strategies, including strong political will, powerful anti-corruption ordinance, absolute independence, a three-pronged attack, draconian powers of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), high remuneration in the civil service (to maintain integrity), and a declared investment and integrity check of all civil servants. The success of the reform was globally recognised, and Transparency International has consistently ranked Hong Kong one of the cleanest cities in Asia since 1995. As can be seen in Figure 10.1, the number of prosecution cases has remained

fairly steady, at around 300 to 600 cases per year, since 1980. Occasional increases took place in 1993 and in the early 2000s as a result of political uncertainty and economic downturn. Furthermore, although a high level of corruption existed in government departments and the police force in the 1970s, an image of a clean government began to emerge as the number of prosecutions against civil servants decreased in the early 1980s. Since 1982, the number of prosecutions against civil servants has remained lower than that of agents in the private sector, meaning that this pattern persisted following Hong Kong’s return to Chinese sovereignty in 1997. Since the early 2000s, the number of persons prosecuted for corruption-related offences has been in decline. Corruption reform is a continuous trial-and-error process, and Hong Kong

has learnt many lessons regarding which measures are effective and which are not over the last few decades. This chapter aims to deconstruct the package of strategies that helps control corruption in Hong Kong. Five main groups of strategies will be discussed: effective legislation enacted within the rule of law, the establishment of the ICAC, the necessity for strong political will, the emergence of a watchdog culture, and civil service reform.